One would think having a pocket-sized computer as one’s disposable would improve productivity, but since the advent and popularization of the smartphone, productivity growth has sagged.
Coincidence? Maybe, but some surveys show that we check our phones as many as 150 times per day. Couple that with the fact that it can take 20-25 minutes to get back on track after an interruption and the claim that smartphones contribute to slower productivity doesn’t sound so crazy.
The FT reports on this in an article today. To wit:
The costs of this distraction are starting to become apparent. I wrote recently about the research of Gloria Mark of the University of California, Irvine. Prof Mark argues that reorientating yourself after an interruption tends to take between 20 and 25 minutes. We all know how a moment’s inattention can turn into a clickhole of distractions. She also points out that once we get used to being interrupted by others, we start interrupting ourselves, twitchily checking email or social media in the hope something interesting might turn up.
The bankunderground, a blog for Bank of England staff featured this issue in a November post.
Might the crisis of attention be affecting the economy? The most obvious place to look would be in productivity growth, which has been persistently weak across advanced economies over the past decade (during which time, as it happens, global shipments of smartphones have risen roughly ten-fold).
Read more here.
Jeremy Jones, CFA
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